Faculty Member Ravi Howard Travels to Ernest Gaines’ Louisiana

Faculty Member Ravi Howard Travels to Ernest Gaines’ Louisiana

I often travel to places I’ve read about, and I like how the remembered story unfolds as I drive, at once moving toward a destination and returning to a memory. On this particular trip, I’m rememberingErnest J. Gaines’s The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, a novel that follows the 100-year life of Miss Jane, from her birth during slavery to her death in the 1960s.

I’m heading to Pointe Coupee, Louisiana, and when I arrive, I’ll meet Ernest himself. I’m accepting an award named in his honor, and to say I’m grateful doesn’t come close to describing how I feel. Ernest has been a hero of mine since I was a teenager. In 2002, I sat in an auditorium at Spelman College in Atlanta and listened as he discussed his life and writing with Emory professor Rudolph Byrd. I’ll see Rudolph on this trip too. Together, we’ll all drive around Pointe Coupee, stopping to see a tree that is both myth and landmark.

Read the rest of the article at this link: THAT TREE HAS BEEN HERE

Angela Flournoy in The Nation

Angela Flournoy in The Nation

Brand Yeezy

To what extent can Kanye West continue to foreground the commercial components that make his art possible before we no longer consider him an artist at all?

What could we possibly not know about Kanye West? He has rapped, tweeted, blogged, and ranted about his feelings for years. His wife’s television show is dedicated to “keeping up” with her life. And yet the sweeping constellation of facts about Kanye contributes more to obscurity than to clarity. What had been missing, before 2013, was a specific piece of rhetoric, some overarching ethos to help contextualize the albums, videos, apparel, and media frenzies he creates. What’s still missing is comprehension. With every appearance, Kanye makes an appeal for us to understand something about him. It seems that he needs us to, desperately.

In 2013, West sat for a handful of long interviews with radio and television outlets, ostensibly in support of his album Yeezus. In 2015, he again agreed to do interviews, this time to promote his new shoe and clothing lines. Outside of his music, these conversations granted us the most access to West’s thoughts during those years. (There was also, of course, the occasional Twitter proclamation and the grainy footage of him haranguing audiences while wearing a designer mask.) Video clips from the interviews went viral, spawning scores of “Kanye rant” memes and speculations about his mental health. Some of his fans created YouTube compilations of the most fortifying quotes delivered therein. “This is just an educational video to show the true inspirational words that Kanye West has for the world,” one fan explains. Such is the dichotomy of West as a public figure: The same remarks that spurred the president to call him a jackass may have inspired at least one young black woman to follow her dreams.

Read the rest of the article here: Brand Yeezy